‘Honour Killings’: Lower caste man beheaded in Tamil Nadu over attempted inter-caste marriage.

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Another tragic incident has come to light where a ‘lower’ caste man in Tamil Nadu was beheaded for having romantic relations with a girl from another caste. The couple attempted to get married, before the bride’s family stopped the wedding and things turned violent.

Story: Avani Kulshreshtha

Edit: Nitya Kaimal

Azhagendran, a young man from the Arunthathiyar community was brutally murdered and his body discarded in an undergrowth while his head was separately buried along the bank of a nearby irrigation tank.

His body was discovered on Thursday, June 27. Prabakaran, one of the main suspects, has been detained and the girl, Rudrapriya’s father, is on the run. Both of these men have had cases filed against them in the past, however, the details of these cases have not yet been revealed, as the Virudhunagar police directed queries to the Madurai police.

The couple had attempted to marry at a temple in Thiruparankundram on June 24, but the marriage was intercepted by Rudrapriya’s family, and Azhagendran was physically assaulted. As of now, there are no details available about Rudrapriya, and the police do not know if she is safe.

Also read: Faridabad: Dalit man shot to death by fellow locals.

The girl, Rudrapriya belongs to the Devandra Kulla Vellalar community, while Azhagendran belongs to the community of Arunthathiyar community. Both of these social groups are considered ‘lower’ and are a part of SC. However, the Devandra Kulla Vellalar community views itself as superior to the Arunthathiyar. It has also been revealed that Rudrapriya’s father used casteist slurs against the 27-year-old, and threatened to kill him if he did not end his relations with his daughter.

The term ‘Devendra Kulla Vellalars’ was recently introduced to officially represent seven castes, including Devendrakulathan, Kudumban, and Pallar. This change was driven by Krishnasamy, the leader of the Puthiya Tamilagam party, who argues that the Devendra Kulla Vellalars are primarily a wetland farming community and believes they should be moved from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category to the Other Backward Class (OBC) list. Krishnasamy claims that this community descends from ancient royal families like the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas and that their Dalit identity was unfairly assigned.

Also read: Retired Headmaster Goes Viral For Beating Up A 14-Year-Old Dalit Boy Over A Pomegranate

In 2021, the Union government had agreed to recognize the seven castes under the Devendra Kulla Vellalars name. This was seen as an effort to gain support from the community, especially with the BJP leader L Murugan being promoted to the Cabinet. However, Krishnasamy’s efforts to move the community out of the Scheduled Caste (SC) category could not leave a deeper mark, mainly because the community still struggles with serious social and economic issues.

This murder is another example of ‘honour killings’ in the country. In reaction to these incidents, the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network, headed by A Kathir from the Madurai-based Dalit rights organization Evidence, created a people’s Bill aimed at stopping them. This bill, submitted to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin almost a year ago, aims to ensure justice, compensation, and rehabilitation for victims. Later however Stalin stated in the Assembly that instead of new laws, existing laws should be enforced more effectively to bring offenders to justice. The incident is an indicator of growing caste-based violence and an urgent need to bring about effective changes in the social and legal framework of the country.

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